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State Supreme Court Lets BCS Ruling Stand

The decision by the state's highest court means the Los Altos School District must change how it assesses what is "reasonably equivalent" space when it offers Bullis Charter School facilities for the coming school year.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a decision that found in favor of Bullis Charter School in its quest to get "reasonably equivalent" facilities from the Los Altos School District.

In denying a request to review the Oct. 27, 2011 decision of Sixth District Court of Appeal, the state's highest court upheld the finding that the Los Altos School District (LASD) was short-changing Bullis (BCS) in the facilities it offers the school. That court's finding that LASD must come into compliance now must be applied.

“With this facilities decision final, it is our desire to work in partnership with the District to ensure that all students are treated fairly," said Ken Moore, president of the BCS board, in a written statement.

Prop. 39 was passed by voters in 2000. It provides that charter schools are offered facilities with “conditions reasonably equivalent” to what students would receive if they were attending other public schools in the district, and that facilities must be shared with all students of the district.

Bullis' prevailing in this matter will have impact across the state, Moore said. All districts will likely be eyeing the Sixth District's decision as they consider their preliminary facilities offers to charter schools, which must be made at the end of the month.

“This decision will bolster our statewide efforts to fulfill the promise of Proposition 39,” said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.

"We appreciate Bullis’ efforts to advance the cause.”

The October appeals court ruling that now stands noted that when measuring the space at district-run schools, LASD excluded from consideration more than a million square feet, collectively, from five schools used as comparison schools. Such measurements are needed to do an adequate analysis in order make "a complete and fair" facilities offer, the appeals court found in October.

In asking the state Supreme Court to review the case, the school board took issue with the appeals court ruling, arguing that the appeals court had taken away discretion of local officials to balance the needs of all public school students, and had reduced the facilities offer to a mechanical process of measurements and mathematical formula that doesn't take into account other considerations.

This appears to bring to an end the appeal by the Los Altos School Board, which had hoped to prevail at the Supreme Court level. The only court left is the U.S. Supreme Court.

The next move, in any case, is in the hands of the school district.

The decision comes at a time when charter schools and host school districts across the state are in negotiations for space allocations. Districts, by law, must make their preliminary offer to charter schools at the end of the month.

"Hopefully, Moore said, the Supreme Court ruling will inform the preliminary offer.

Moore acknowledged there had been a lot of anxiety in the schools community because many parents feared that Gardner Bullis School campus would be offered to BCS. 

While BCS has always described Gardner Bullis School as its preference when making its annual request for facilities, it has stated that any school on a 10-acre site that feeds into Los Altos High School would be an acceptable site, Moore said.

"This is truly the district's decision how they are going to comply with this," Moore added. "There are other options at their disposal."

Joan J. Strong January 19, 2012 at 07:27 AM
Although not unexpected, this is a sad, sad day for public education in California. It shows that if you have enough money, and buy the best lawyers, you can sue any school district in California and expect to win yourself lots of free real estate in the form of school campuses. The BCS regime has paved the way for our schools to be decimated by every imaginable gang of lawyers. Stay tuned for every kind of "charter school" experiment to come our way and force our children from their schools. We're first in test scores, which makes us first on the hit list for every shyster. As for BCS itself the battle has just begun. Never before have PARENTS spoken out against them. As parents, this will be our year to be heard. Just like we defeated their lies by passing Measure E, we can defeat them by forcing BCS out of our two towns. Outside of educational circles and online forums like this one, this issue is virtually unknown to parents and citizens here. I urge all parents to make their voices heard to anybody who will listen. What is going on here is wrong. Find more information here: http://bullischarterscam.org/ Please help promote this site as well, and raise awareness of this critical battle for our schools and our community. The site has a flyers you can download and print as well--or make your own. The BCS regime has twisted the Charter laws in a way that will close our top-ranked public schools here--unless we stop them. There still is time. Thank you.
Audrey Crowley January 19, 2012 at 03:43 PM
My understanding is that the law was not specific in its definition of what is "fair and equivalent" and the courts ruled in favor of LASD on several previous occasions. Only this most recent lawsuit by BCS brought on this very different ruling and very different guidelines for calculating facilities use. It is not accurate to characterize LASD as 'short-changing' BCS and 'non-compliant' with the law, when this law has never been (and still isn't) clearly defined.
Taxpayer January 19, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Clearly, neither of the above posters have read the opinion, and have no understanding whatsoever about how our legal system is structured and the impact of the Court of Appeal's ruling. "Short-changing" is an understatement and as long as anyone follows (or tries to follow) the absurd statements of the posters above, one will be mislead and confused.
Deep Grizzly January 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Meanwhile, for a more humorous take on this situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO3C17Uv1fc
Ron Haley January 19, 2012 at 05:06 PM
It's clear from looking at the decision that the LASD board and administrators perpetrated a fraud of mammoth proportions. Are these the leaders we want going forward. How can parents believe anything coming out of LASD. Let's find new candidates for the board and elect them in November, then clean house and install competent and honest administrators.
Joan J. Strong January 19, 2012 at 05:18 PM
This, coming from a person who spent a small fortune on thousands of fraudulent lawn signs with lies about the pro-education Measure E. See: http://www.bullischarterscam.org/bullis_charter_history.php#measure_e For the BCS regime, the ends justify the means. Lying is okay as long as it furthers the cause of the Charter.
suzi berry January 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I understand that people are upset about the current situation, but I don't understand the tone and tendency of some posters to demonize everyone at BCS (or the other way around). Please remember, we are all members of the greater LASD community, BCS kids and families represent 10% of LASD families - we are neighbors and friends. We work, live, play and pray together -- we went to preschool together. We can't let this tear our community apart. I think BCS parents would be surprised to know that we are all billionaires! Please stop repeating this ridiculous claim. In truth, our community is representative of the entire LASD district -- unlike the other LASD schools which have local boundaries. We all live in a very privileged area, and BCS's demographics reflect those of the census data in our community. For more information on diversity at BCS and the greater community please see: http://www.bullischarterschool.com/cms/lib6/CA01001253/Centricity/Domain/1/Ib_BCS_Moore_Letter_to_SCCBOE_100511.pdf I am sure I am not going out on a limb saying we *all* want what is best for our kids. Some of us have chosen BCS as the best learning environment, some of us have chosen neighborhood schools. Some private schools. Let's respect each other's choices and more forward in a way that is respectful and productive for the entire community. We should be celebrating the fact that we have a superb public system and the #1 public charter in the state, not self-destructing over it.
Ron Haley January 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Joan/David, Check out http://measureE.net for the real facts!!
randy albin January 19, 2012 at 07:28 PM
you mean that this is not referring to the bowl championship series of the NCAA?
Ron Haley January 19, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Some LASD pensions - and you wonder why the district needed more money via measure E. Name Monthly Annual District CELESTE, ROBERT G $9,956.73 $119,480.76 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY ECKOLS, LINDA K $9,594.90 $115,138.80 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY GRATIOT, MARGARET H $14,854.59 $178,255.08 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY HARRIS, ANDREA B $8,524.10 $102,289.20 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY HOFFMAN, RUSSELL $10,009.06 $120,108.72 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY JUSTUS, TIMOTHY L $16,778.57 $201,342.84 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY LEPAGE, ANNE B $9,035.54 $108,426.48 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY LEWIS, LARRY T $9,300.70 $111,608.40 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY LIEWER, RICHARD W $10,801.87 $129,622.44 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY MCNULTY, DAVID G $10,950.25 $131,403.00 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY WEISMAN, PATRICIA D $12,584.53 $151,014.36 LOS ALTOS ELEMENTARY
jolie January 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Ron - what is Wanny's salary and scheduled pension? What are her benefits? How many loans and in what amounts has she been given by BCS or the Foundation? Let's look at this clearly. Also, can the current LASD board change the pension plan for past LASD retirees?
Just Mom January 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Thank you for posting the link to that site Joan. I will certainly be sharing the site with others. I see Mr. Haley is here again pushing his agenda just as he always has been since this whole mess began. You can twist it and turn it any way you like Mr. Haley those of us who know the truth will not be swayed.
Ron Haley January 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Unlike LASD, BCS isn't carrying an $18 million unfunded pension liability, isn't cutting programs or laying off staff. My agenda is pretty simple - proper fiscal management by LASD, and fair equitable treatment of all public school children within LASD.
L.A. Chung (Editor) January 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
@randy albin: I often chuckled at that thought—might there be a whole group of people who will come to this site expecting find something illuminating about the Bowl Championship Series? ... If that is possible, that is. < smile >
Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 01:06 AM
So let me get this straight, private control over PUBLIC money leads to more accountability, right? Because, you see, that's exactly what a Charter school is. It's no different than every sundry cleptocracy around the world...
Ron Haley January 20, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Charter schools; No tenure after 2 years No last in first out No unions Differentiated salary increases based on performance. All pretty big +++++++++ imho.
Ron Haley January 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I have no idea what Wanny makes - but based upon performance, I hope it's a lot more than her LASD equivalent!
Bill January 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I believe many of those questions are answered at www.guidestar.org. IRS form 990-EZ are required to be filed and are publicly available. fundraising, expenses etc are all publicly available
Bill January 21, 2012 at 04:40 PM
From what I can see on IRS form 990 for 2009, the principal was paid $237,328 in addition to a loan of $62,721. The vice principal was paid $119,520. The largest independent contractors were law firm MoRrison and Forester for $614,296 and Edtech for $175,000.
Bill January 21, 2012 at 04:45 PM
In 2008, according to the filed form, Revenues less expenses was a loss of $400,000. In 2009, that number was a loss of $60,000. Net assets was $276,000.
Ron Haley January 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I have no idea of what individual salaries are at LASD or BCS. What I do know is that teacher fully loaded salaries at LASD are 30% higher than Santa Clara average, and 40% higher than BCS. Also, in it's first year into measure E, LASD is already cutting programs, cutting the school year and laying off teachers. Given that LASD forecasts a 40% increase in teacher benefits over the life of measure E, parents can expect significant further cuts in programs. BCS isn't cutting programs or laying off staff. Unlike LASD, it's well managed fiscally. Any increase in size is to BCS's benefit, as administrative costs will be spread over a larger population. LASD needs to get it's house in order, or become irrelevant. Parents are voting with their children's feet.
Joan J. Strong January 23, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Reality WILL eventually catch up with BCS. That's obvious to anybody understanding this situation with any depth. They can lie to the citizens of Los Altos all they want and sometimes get away with it, but they can't fool mother nature. By the way Ron, if you were a lawyer you'd know the first rule of being an attorney: you don't sue poor people. With all of the cutbacks in the State of CA and the issues you cite with the state of our District, yes you very much CAN bankrupt them and force them to SELL OFF OUR CAMPUSES. Then what you will have accomplished? You'll be the defacto school district in Los Altos and Hills with a giant pile of crap to deal with. You'll be forced to deal with all of the "problem" kids. All of the smart kids will have long-since moved to private schools to avoid this cluster-F. The FACT is that BCS and charters in general accomplish NOTHING but moving the problem to another Board of Directors--this one being unelected and accountable to nobody. The stats for Charter schools across the country are just starting to come in and proving this over and over: just like BCS, the test scores are the same as the surrounding schools or worse. But the lazy rich BCS won't hang around when they are faced with THESE problems. This isn't what they signed up for. There is NO WAY this school will exist in ten years. The district should plan accordingly.
jolie January 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
If you have no idea what the individual salaries are at BCS then it's difficult for you to come across as having any credibility stating that BCS is well managed fiscally. Indeed, I don't think it's fiscally sound for the foundation to lend money to one of its board members for personal use. I don't think its sound for the school to run programs that require "donations" of $5000 per child to fund. I do think the school district is doing the best it can with financial obligations it is required to keep while the state keeps reducing funding. I agree that going forward the board should negotiate firmly with the union to reduce future obligations.
randy albin January 23, 2012 at 09:58 PM
how about let's go back to how the bowl games were decided before the bowl championship series went into effect. ok?
Ron Haley January 24, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Here is the Ed Code on Charter funding. It seems pretty clear to me! "It is the intent of the Legislature that each charter school be provided with operational funding that is equal to the total funding that would be available to a similar school district serving a similar pupil population..." [Education Code 47630(a)
Joan J. Strong January 24, 2012 at 07:36 AM
The local city passed local parcel taxes for the District, not other entities. BCS is chartered by the County (after the District refused). The clear intent of the voters who voted for this funding, therefore, is clear. Meanwhile, speaking of intent, there is no way IN A MILLION YEARS that the Charter laws in California were passed by the voters of CA in order to allow a bunch of billionaires suck a local school district dry. No WAY. Yes, high-paid lawyers can find loopholes, but nobody can say with a straight face that what BCS did was anything but that: exploit a loophole in the law. *** But yes Ron, we know. BCS is going to sue the District again. And again. And again. It's what they do. It's why they exist. On that note, here's to hoping that the District does EVERYTHING it possibly can to delay things and does not compromise with BCS one INCH over what is absolutely required by the immediate law. Here's to hoping that LASD's lawyers can find loopholes too. Here's to hoping that they understand that working, "to avoid lawsuits with BCS" is pointless since they will be in lawsuits regardless of what they do. Here's to hoping that they can delay BCS's destruction of our local school district long enough for our information and outreach efforts to have their effect and end the interest in this "school".
randy albin January 24, 2012 at 10:47 PM
if your family can successfully interact with the schools around los altos, then bully for you. let's fix this library situation so that people can get free library cards like before. los altos school district isn't the only organization that can stir up this kind of a debate
randy albin January 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM
enough already. let's have people vote on this and then go back to when someone could get a los altos library card without having to pay to get one

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